Last year marked the 35th anniversary of the Super Mario video game franchise, a series of games that popularized and helped shape modern gaming as we know it. In celebration, Nintendo did several big stunts, including partnering with the shoe company Vans to make a Super Mario-themed shoe and releasing Mario-themed LEGO sets.
However, the biggest way Nintendo opted to celebrate was announcing “Super Mario 3D All-Stars,” a game collection released for the Nintendo Switch on Sept. 18. The collection consisted of three of the biggest 3D games in the history of Super Mario: 1996’s “Super Mario 64,” 2002’s “Super Mario Sunshine” and 2007’s “Super Mario Galaxy.”
Seeing how these games were incredibly influential for a large number of gamers, the release was praised overall despite issues with presentation and a lack of additional content. However, there was one aspect about “3D All-Stars” that was almost universally criticized. After March 31, the game collection will stop physical production and no longer be available on the Nintendo eShop.
This move was widely unpopular when initially announced, and criticism lasts even to this day. Nintendo seems unfazed by critics. However, according to Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser in a Polygon interview, the company decided to use this limited release as a means of celebration.
“It just — this is a celebration of Mario’s 35th anniversary. And we wanted to celebrate in unique and different ways,” said Bowser.
With that in mind, one must ask: if Nintendo wishes to celebrate Mario’s anniversary with the release of “3D All-Stars,” why would they choose to have the celebration end by eventually cutting off something as profitable as this? Not only are “Mario Sunshine” and “Mario Galaxy” treasured by Mario fans but “Super Mario 64” helped shape the future for both platforming games and 3D games as a whole.
Fans have been asking for remastered versions of these games for years. Now that they are here, why would they take that away from people at all?
According to GameSpot, “Super Mario 3D All-Stars” sold more than eight million copies last year, so if the limited release was done to make the game a rarity, this renders that approach almost completely moot. Furthermore, the website said that as of Feb. 1, the Nintendo Switch has sold “79.87 million units over its lifetime.” Therefore, if approximately one in 10 Switch owners owns “3D All-Stars,” that does not exactly make the game difficult to find after March 31.
Others have theorized that the collection is limited because Nintendo intends to sell each of the remastered games individually after March. If this does turn out to be the approach they take, this is incredibly non-consumer friendly.
While these games being remastered is something worth enjoying, that does not change the fact that the youngest game in the collection, “Mario Galaxy,” is 13 years old, with “Super Mario 64” being 24 years old. Half the value in these games is that they were bundled together; on their own, the ports feel cheaper and less worth praise.
Nobody knows what the future holds for “Super Mario 3D All-Stars” after this month. The uncertainty does not bode well for these ports or Nintendo itself. Regardless, one can only hope that the 35th anniversary of “Super Mario” is not brought down by Nintendo being greedy with how they handle these old but beloved re-releases.